The Mt Difficulty brand started in 1998 with a very small production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made by Grant Taylor of Gibbston Valley Wines (now of Valli Wines). Prior to this the Gang sold their grapes to either Gibbston Valley or Chard Farm. The Air New Zealand wine awards in 1999 put Mt Difficulty on the map, with our 1998 Pinot Noir winning a gold medal and the Chardonnay, silver.

In 1999 Matt Dicey came on board as winemaker, and he made the 1999 and 2000 vintage wines at Longburn Winery in Cromwell's budding industrial area. In 1999 the range was increased to include Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc; while Gewürztraminer and Riesling were added in 2000. Gewürztraminer proved to be too difficult to grow economically (the variety often has a poor fruit-set) and the vines were pulled out prior to 2001. More recently the Mt Difficulty Chardonnay vineyards in Bannockburn have been replaced with other vines, including Chenin Blanc, leaving the Growers Series label (introduced in 2011 to showcase the terroir of other sub-regions) to fly the Chardonnay flag from 2010.

The vintage release in October 2001 marked a progression for Mt Difficulty Wines, with several Single Vineyard wines being seen for the first time. The 2001 white wines included two later-pick Rieslings and a late pick Pinot Gris, plus two Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 2000 vintage. The philosophy of Single Vineyard wines is to display the unique characteristics that are particular to their site. With such a mixture of soils, microclimates and grape clones the difference in the wines from each vineyard site is quite noticeable and significant.

The next major change to the portfolio happened in 2004, when our second label Roaring Meg was launched. The first release consisted of a Pinot Noir and a Merlot from the 2003 vintage, with Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc following on a few years later. The Merlot was a short lived label, only appearing in 2003 and 2004. The varietal proved a little too thick skinned to achieve optimal ripening in Central Otago, but did at least give assistant winemaker Roger deGrauw the chance to hone his Rosé making skills in 2005 before the vines on Templars Hill were replaced by Pinot Gris. The fruit driven, early drinking style of the Roaring Meg wines struck a chord with the market and the brand has been the main source of growth for Mt Difficulty Wines since 2007.

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